May 15, 2017

How long have you been in your current position? A year or two, three at the most, I’ll bet. People outside of the development profession are often amazed at the short tenure in this profession.

There have been scores and scores of hard working development staff who have been summarily knocked to their collective knees by those who aren’t knowledgeable about the work you do.

There may be a few good reasons for short stays, but overwhelmingly, the #1 reason is ineffective evaluation. In the 25 years  I’ve worked in this field, I’ve met very few people who are lazy or incompetent. Mostly, the profession has effective, hard-working fundraisers trying to do good work.

Here are my solutions:


November 20, 2015


Given all the passion and efforts you pour into your mission year-round, it’s only natural to emphasize your organization and its reason for existence in your appeal.  After all, an educated and well-informed donor is your best donor…right?  Is it possible, however, that your focus on the WHAT and WHY of your mission leaves out the all-important WHO?   I’m referring to your donors, of course.


The best, results-producing fundraising appeals are donor-focused. And, if your appeal answers the following key donor questions in a compelling way, you will you have opened up avenues for tremendous success down the line.

  1. Why me? Your donors, whether they’re first-timers or repeat...

August 4, 2015

Whether you’re a director of advancement, major gifts, or an executive director, you’re a leader. I wonder, though, how many directors of development or major gift directors view themselves that way.


A lot of times what I see is nonprofit development people waiting for someone (anyone) to lead.  It’s sort of like a Saturday morning at the Rescigno house. I usually look around and think everything is fine until I see the expression on Sue’s face: it says, “Hey Bucko, if we want to have a nice weekend, let’s do some straightening up, then we’ll both be able to relax.” Now I may not always like it, but that’s leadership! So I usually end up saying, “Just tell me what you’d like me to do, and...

June 19, 2015

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious.  Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” - Jim Rohn, American entrepenuer, author and motivational speaker


And so begins the first edition of Fundamental Fridays, a blog devoted to making your organization fundamentally sound.  I’ll begin with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.  My mother tenderly reminded me of the power packed in these two words, and I now believe they’re the two bookends of fundraising fundamentals.  Steady, on-going stewardship is the middle that is held firmly in place between these bookends – and should they fail to be propped up and tended to with constant care and attention, that middl...

June 8, 2015

Daniel Burnham, hailed as a Chicago visionary, once said, “Make no small plans.” Burnham was renowned for leading the design of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago over 100 years ago.


He challenged civic leaders to think big as they envisioned what the future of Chicago would be. The results of his vision are evident today in expansive public parks, open spaces and famous institutions along the shore of Lake Michigan.


While most of us who are engaged in the world of nonprofits are unlikely to be involved in projects of such magnitude, we’ve all seen successful organizations that defied the odds and evolved from the thinking of one or two individual dreams and plans.


What separates the “bi...

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